How I wish we have aviation Master plan based on demand and traffic so that we can ascertain if this is not a vanity project. This was exactly the comment I made the last time I read the news about Osun state proposed MKO Abiola international airport.
Many aviation experts saw this project as a waste of state fund and not necessary. So many experts and frequent travellers were of the opinion that the government should have used the money to upgrade Ibadan airport since the airport is not far away from Osun state and has been fully utilized since inception. Some said the government should have channelled the fund to road construction and rail services or better still pay off all the workers they are been owed in the state instead of starting some kind of elephant project that will not see the light of the day.
Of course project like this will never go without praise singers having one or two things to say concerning the project. When sagetravels.com broke the news about the proposed M.K.O Abiola international airport, they were some that lauded the project. They praised the government of Osun state for embarking on such project. They went as far as listing the social and economic benefits of the M.K.O Abiola international airport when completed. When I examined the comments, I found out that most of the praise singers have little or no knowledge of how the aviation industry works.
A friend of mine who went to the Federal Airport Authority Nigeria (FAAN) stand during the just concluded National Tourism Transport Summit and Expo in Abuja to inquire about the M.K.O Abiola international airport, was told by a Federal Airport Authority Nigeria (FAAN) staff that they are not fully aware of the project as it is a private airport. Moreover, Osun State does not necessarily need an airport.
A strong supporter and aviation expert, who have seen the importance of airports, disagreed with the Federal Airport Authority Airport (FAAN) arguing that Osun state needs an airport. He was of the opinion that the airport should be strictly tourism airport considering the fact that Osun state has over 60 tourist attractions and having an airport is not a bad idea. He went further to buttress his point on why Osun state needs an airport by citing Niger Delta states (South-South). According to him, Niger Delta (south South) has more than 5 airports (Bening, Warri, Asaba, Portharcourt, Bayelsa, Uyo, Calabar Airport), so, therefore, there is need to have the Osun Airport so that there will be four (4) airports in the south-west and by extension, Osun state airport will be the only Southwest owned Airport as Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin and Akure are all federal government owned airports.
A friend that served with Osun State Tourism Board during her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), narrated how the Osun state government is gradually pulling away from sponsoring the Osun Oshogbo festival. I think building an airport is not the problem. Our major problem or let me say challenges in Nigeria has and will remain maintenance culture until we decide to change. Nigeria has about 20 airports. That’s fine but the question is; how is this airport managed? How many are serviceable? Are they functioning very well as expected? How many people use the airport on daily basis? Etc.
According to civil aviation regulation, certain places or geographical locations may not pass a major requirement to position an airport in the location. Many do not even understand what “line of squad” mean? This is a kind of winds that toss and gust at a very high speed capable of flying aircraft of any size to an unknown destination. According to civil regulations 1998 report about Nigeria line of squad, many places including Oshogbo is along this line of squad and this literally means that an airport is not supposed to be in Osun state. (I know these records are long lost).
According to different reports concerning the airport, the proposed M.K.O Abiola international airport would be a cargo and aircraft maintenance hub when completed. But what happened to the project that the contractor said the first phase will be completed before the first quarter of 2018? Then, it will resume operation with five aircraft, three passenger helicopters and one cargo. At the end of the project, the airport will have a 5 star rated hotel, recreational amenities and much more.
The Beginning And The Concession Agreement
The Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, told Osun state people that his administration will build an airport for easy movement of people and goods, also, to promote the state tourist attractions. This and more was some of his campaign promises. He said this when he visited the Alayemore of Ido-Osun, Oba Aderemi Adedapo palace. Due to the economic situation in Nigeria, the state was unable to execute this project. Since the government was unable to complete the project due to lack of fund, the decided to hand over the project to a private firm (AWOL International Limited) on 26 October 2017.
AWOL International Limited agreed to build, operate and transfer the airport to Osun state government after 30 years.
The Current State Of The Airport
According to Nigerian Tribune, the site where the airport is located has been taken over by weed. Some of the buildings have collapsed and some are not accessible because weed has taken over. The site is gradually turning into a forest.
The Distance Between Osun And The Nearby Airports
Osun state is surrounded by three (3) airports namely Ibadan Airport, Akure Airport and Ilorin Airport. The distance from Osun to these states is not much. For instance, from Osun to Ibadan is less than an hour drive. From research, the 3 airports are still functioning.
Question for the day?
Do you think Osun state needs an airport since there are three (3) functioning airports?